Friday October 28 2005
SWAMPSCOTT – A Jewish-owned van was torched in the parking lot of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore last week, only two weeks after the synagogue had been the target of anti-Semitic vandalism.Days before Rosh Hashanah, the same Chabad congregation found that vandals had entered the building through an unlocked door on Sept. 30, destroying the interior of the property with obscene, anti-Jewish messages.
Rabbi Yossi Lipsker, spiritual leader of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore, told the Advocate two weeks ago: “I was horrified beyond imagination. To bring that dimension into this sacred space was utterly horrifying.”
The van fire is under investigation by Swampscott Police. Because the incident took place at a house of worship, it was reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to the Swampscott Police Department.
The police are not saying whether the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Rabbi Yossi Lipsker was unavailable for comment.
Merritt A. Mullman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore, called the incident “wholly unacceptable.” He said that this was the fourth anti-Semitic incident that has taken place against this congregation during the past six months. He also pointed out that Temple Ahavat Shalom in Lynn was recently attacked by vandals. “We will not be harassed,” wrote Mullman in a letter to members of his community. “Our best response is to stand tall and strong in the face of these and all vile acts.”
Mullman said: “I want to see my community be clear and make a statement by our actions. We’re in the middle of the season of holidays. Synagogues and temples should be overflowing this week. We will not be deterred from pursuing Jewish life, and there is no greater response that we can give than that.”
Rabbi Moishe Bleich, spiritual leader of the Wellesley-Weston Chabad Center, said: “If there is a connection, it turns into something that is horrific. “Rabbi Lipsker and his community are upstanding members of the community. They have only been giving toward the community, and I can’t understand or give any excuse for anyone to do something like this.”